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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 31Poland and Hungary: Jewish Realities Compared$
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François Guesnet, Howard Lupovitch, and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764715

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764715.001.0001

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Jews and Poles, 1860-1914

Jews and Poles, 1860-1914

Assimilation, Emancipation, Antisemitism

(p.121) Jews and Poles, 1860-1914
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 31

Theodore R. Weeks

Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates how the roughly half-century before the First World War was a period of striking change for the Jews resident in the Polish lands. While even in 1914 the majority of Polish Jews remained Orthodox in religious observation, followed everyday lives quite different from those of their Christian neighbours, and spoke Yiddish as their primary tongue, even a cursory comparison of the situation in 1914 to the situation in 1860 reveals processes of thorough-going transformation that would become even more pronounced by 1939. At the beginning of this period, Jewish emancipation and equal rights were being discussed but had not yet — even in the legal sphere — been realized for most Polish Jews. On the eve of the First World War, in contrast, most Jews in the Polish lands enjoyed some form of legal equality. The only exception was within the Pale of Settlement of the Russian empire where restrictive laws continued in force. In short, Jews were becoming integrated — at least on a legal level — with the rest of society. This process of integration — and challenges to it — characterizes the period discussed here.

Keywords:   Polish Jews, Jewish emancipation, legal equality, Jewish integration, Polish lands, assimilation, antisemitism

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